Phrases on a plane: Travel is a great way to learn about other cultures and meet people from other countries. Striking up a conversation with the people sat next to you on the plane can be an enjoyable way to pass the time during your flight, get some great tips for your trip, practice your English language skills and even make a new friend.
Of course, starting conversations with strangers can be hard, especially when speaking in a foreign language. Here are some easy tips for starting conversations on the plane and getting to know the people sitting next to you.
The first and easiest step is to say “hello” and introduce yourself with a smile. Tell your seat neighbour your name and ask for their name.
Show an interest
The best way to find out a bit more about your seat neighbour is to ask questions. Simple questions such as “Where are you from?” help to get a conversation going.
Find some common ground
It’s always easier to talk to someone if you have things in common. Try to find out about your seat neighbour’s interests by asking about things they like. You could ask “Do you like flying?” and talk about how you feel about flying, too. They might respond “Yes, I really like being on planes,” or “Actually, no. I prefer trains most of the time.” Try asking more general questions, such as “Do you enjoy travelling?” or “Which countries have you visited?” If you discover you have been to some of the same places, you can ask what they thought, and tell them about your experiences there, too.
Share your experiences
Your seat neighbour will probably want to ask you some questions about yourself, too. They may ask where you are from, whether you are on holiday, what you will do when you arrive.
Concentrate on what you know
The one thing you already know about your seat neighbour is that they are travelling – so ask them about their trip. For example, you can ask “Are you on your way home?” or “Is your trip for business, or a holiday?” Their answers will lead to other questions. If they are travelling on business, you could ask “What job do you do?” If they are returning home, you could ask “Did you enjoy your trip?” If they are at the start of their holiday you could ask “Have you visited this city before?” or “How long will you be on holiday?”
Ask for their advice
If your seat neighbour knows your destination city well, you could ask for some tips for your trip. Questions such as “What is it like living there?”, “What places would you recommend I visit during my trip?” or “Which are the best places to eat?” will help you learn a little more about the city you are going to visit. If your seat neighbour is a local, they might be able to point out places that tourists don’t usually visit, or give you some handy tips about using public transport. Do ask them about places to avoid, too.
Share your knowledge
If you’re more familiar with your destination than your seat neighbour, they may have some questions for you! If it is their first trip, try suggesting things they might like to visit in the centre of town, as well as some restaurants and bars that only locals would know. Ask which places they are hoping to visit and try to suggest some things that aren’t on their list.
Staying in touch
If you’ve just had a great conversation with your seat neighbour, you may feel reluctant to go back to being strangers once you arrive at your destination. Let them know you’ve really enjoyed chatting and would like to stay in touch. You can then give them your business card – or more informally, try offering them your email address or Twitter handle. You never know, you may have made a friend for life!